JIS News

Rayon Dwyer is a 21 year-old student of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, St. Andrew, who is aspiring towards a career in either medicine or the forensic sciences.
To this end, he is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in bio-chemistry at the institution, and entering his third year in that programme in the 2009/10 academic year.
Rayon’s career aspirations and attendant academic pursuits should come as no surprise. He readily admits to having always been scientifically-inclined, exhibiting an insatiable appetite for biology, in particular, while pursuing his secondary education at Wolmer’s Boys School in Kingston. He attended that institution for seven years, between 2000 and 2007, graduating with fairly impressive external examination results.
“I have always been fascinated by what happens in the body,” informs the Former Wolmer’s Deputy Head Boy, pointing out that while another science subject, chemistry, was not a favourite, “I did it just the same.”
Rayon’s quest towards fulfilling his pursuits got a boost in the summer of 2007, shortly after graduating from Wolmer’s and just ahead of his entry to the UWI, when he decided to get involved in the Summer Employment Programme administered by the National Youth Service (NYS), resulting in his placement at the Government Forensic Laboratory in Kingston for three weeks. This enabled him to get first hand exposure to the activities within the facility.
“There’s a slot on the application form that allows you to indicate where you would like to go or what area you would like to get involved in. If you are affiliated with science, they try to involve you or get you as close as possible to some scientific experience,” he tells JIS News.
Rayon says he was attached to the Chemistry Department at the lab, and was assigned data entry logging duties. He adds, however, that he had the opportunity to observe various forensic applications and inputs by the chemists and lab technicians, which primarily entailed the testing of substance samples that were brought in.
“I was around them (chemists/lab technicians), and that was the good thing about it… I was learning around the experts,” he says.
Regarding his expectation of the NYS and whether it was fulfilled, Rayon says: “My expectation was to get a new experience of the work field. Being at the forensic lab, you learned so much.” Reiterating his fascination with the physiology of the human body, Rayon points out that if he decides to opt out of medicine, forensic anthropology would still enable him to maintain a link with his “first love.”
Outside of academics, Rayon has, through the UWI, been involved in several outreach activities. These include: First Year Experience (FYE) and Second Year Experience (SYE) programmes. He explains that on commencing studies at the UWI, students are exposed to a range of outreach programmes in which they can participate, pointing out that he chose the FYE.
Rayon tells JIS News that participants are placed in groups headed by facilitators, depending on the number of volunteers involved, and the members decide on the slate of activities the members will undertake that year. To this end, they chose the Best Care Lodge on Trevennion Road, Kingston, where they worked, offering assistance of varying forms to the youngsters there.
For the 2008/09 academic year, Rayon says he was involved in a mentorship programme, which was one of the options available to participants. He points out that he and his colleagues were assigned to work with students at the adjacent Mona High School.
“I had that mentorship interest. I enjoyed talking to people, learning about their experiences; that’s how I go through life, and so I chose mentorship. We went there (Mona High) on Thursdays and helped the students with their homework,” he informs.
The UWI student advises that he was also involved in a quality leadership programme at the institution during his second year. This, he points out, also entailed community outreach activities, primarily with a school.
“I was active… I was Vice President for my group,” Rayon says, adding that the experiences gained from involvement in the three programmes were beneficial.
“You learned something new every day. A teacher once said to me: ‘Any day you stop learning, that’s the day you’re dead. So, whether it’s work, or something else, you come away with something new; you go home with something new every day. It was quite an experience working on those three programme,” he points out.
With the experience gained through the NYS Summer Employment Programme, Rayon says he will definitely encourage other young people to get involved. He points out that some persons complain of a lack of opportunities, but laments that many of these individuals seem intent on gaining what others have achieved through hard work, without a similar degree of application.
Rayon also has some words of advice for other young people, like himself, whose lives are shrouded in uncertainty: “Times are hard and we are seeing it, we are experiencing it. But it’s a matter of knowing yourself. Get to know yourself, know what you are about, and not ‘what my friend is about’. What I think is wrong is that the majority of us, perhaps, don’t have that sense of individuality,” he tells JIS News.
Rayon says he will be seeking to get involved in a mentorship programme again, during his final year at university.

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